Thursday, January 19, 2006
Primitive archery hunting
I have been hunting for many years now, and have had moderate to good success, especially with firearms. Archery hunting has always been my passion, though. In February of 2005, I started working with wood in the hopes of building my own wooden hunting bow. I purchased several books and got involved with different websites to look for help. Here is the process I went through.
I started out using red oak boards as my primary source of bow wood (Home Depot, of course). With the selection of the right board (growth rings and fiber patterns), it is entirely possible for a beginner to buy a board in the morning and have a usable bow in the late afternoon. As I had almost no power tools, my building time took a little longer, 1&1/2 days. :=) This bow even had a bloodwood handle glued on that was a beautiful deep red color. The bow was 68 inches nock-to-nock (NTN) and pulled about 42 pounds (#). Not a powerhouse, but a definite shooter. I did shoot this bow, but only for a week or so and I was already building the next.
Over the next few months I built several bows. By now, I was using boards from hickory wood, and I was having greater success (wooden bows will often "explode" during construction). Hickory became my wood of choice quickly. During the summer a friend put me in touch with Jerry Peacock, who owns a lumber mill operation in Cary, Ga. Jerry found for me several hickory beams. These were rough cuts of hickory of about 4 X 6 dimension and very heavy. With a new bandsaw (purchased for bowbuilding) I ripped out a 3 inch wide by 1 inch thick plank from one of the beams. This plank was crafted into a pyramid style bow, based on directions found in Traditional Bowyer's Bible's (Tim Baker) and from internet sites such as Paleoplanet and Stickbow. Basically, a pyramid bow is just that. As the limbs go away from the handle, they are very wide (2 to 2.5 inches) and they taper straight to tips that are about 3/8 inch wide. The thickness of the limbs from handle to tips does not change. Pictures are better for understanding this concept. http://i6.photobucket.com/albums/y218/roguearcher/handmade%20bows/Set125_01.jpg
This link shows a pyramid bow, notice the "triangular" shape of the upper limb.
Throughout the spring and summer of 2005 I was constantly shooting my homemade bows. Instinctive shooting (sort of) can take time to learn well enough to hunt game. A few thousand shots later and I was confident enough to go to the woods with my bow. October 28, 2005 I climbed into a permanent tree stand in a hardwood area. Water oak acorns were falling nicely, and I did see a couple of deer early that AM, but no shooting. Later in the morning, I saw a young doe about 40 yards out, feeding slowly. I stood and tightened my fingers on the bowstring. After several minutes of feeding the situation seemed to stall out. I figured I need some help so I did a short series of bleat calls using only my mouth (very softly). The doe turned and walked right over to my stand. At 8 yards, she was broadside, and I came back to full draw. She had no idea.
The cedar arrow sank to the feathers tight behind her shoulder. First she ran away, about 30 yards, and crashed. She then came back past the stand (with no arrow protruding) and crashed about 40 yards away, within sight. This hunt was without a doubt the most exciting I have ever had, including killing large bucks with a rifle. My only response to the entire hunt was to sit down and stare at the arched wooden bow in my hands and cry.
I did find there arrow up the trail she initially took. It was broken, but I did salvage the broadhead (a Magnus 2 blade). Using the shin bone recovered from this deer I crafted a broadhead knife using that Magnus. Very neat.
Thanks for hunting with me today. Please come back soon.
Please remember to visit my Jerky Direct website.